"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turmoil



    I started this project at the beginning of summer.  It was one of those paintings that the idea came to me instantly and therefore you think it is just going to practically paint itself.  It was very clear in my mind the idea that I wanted to convey - a sunflower being blown back and forth in a strong wind.  But when the first few layers were laid down, the painting just didn't seem to be falling together as I had seen it in my mind.  It was a frustrating experience that caused me to lay it aside for over a month. every time I walked by it I was dissatisfied with it.
    Other things seemed to occupy my time and mind this summer.  It has been a summer filled with lots of change and struggle and turmoil.  The thoughts that filled my days this summer consisted of questions like ' What do you do when life throws you a curve ball you weren't expecting?' and ' When life leads you down an unexpected road, one I would probably have preferred not to have gone down, do I still hold on to the beliefs that have in the past been rock solid? Or do I throw in the towel and say I give up, what's the use?'. This has been for me, and my family, a summer of turmoil.
   It was in the middle of all of these questions and struggles that two things happened.  One I stepped back into my little art studio and stood before this painting that had given me earlier grief.  I looked at it for a good three days and realized that the idea for the sunflower being battered and tossed around by the wind felt very much like the summer I was having.  I have seen lots of sunflowers that took a hit in a storm and ended up face down, uprooted.  But some, even though they bend over under the pressure of the wind, the stalk threatening to break,  can afterwards be carefully lifted off the ground and made to stand tall again.  I think the difference is how deep the roots of the plant run.
   The second thing that happened in the midst of all this was that I ran across a scripture that sunk in deeply into my heart.  Isaiah 48:10  "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction."  Ever felt like your camping in the furnace of affliction?  But the refiner has a purpose for it all - to purify the metal until only the purest gold shines through.  
    So it was, still feeling the heat of affliction and emotionally battered by unexpected winds that sometimes blow through our lives, I picked up the brush and began to paint.  There was no longer any struggle to convey that idea I had had months ago, it really did seem to paint itself.  And with each layer of paint, I marveled at how the gold shone more and more brilliantly on the petals.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Wildflower"

  Here is part two of my Memorial Day weekend painting marathon, that I finished up today.  I used my daughter, Sophia, as the model for the body position, and the hair.  But I wasn't really trying to do a portrait of her, per say.  I was more going for the idea of childhood summer.  
     We live out in the semi- country on a two acre lot.  As summer has been approaching I have been waxing sentimental, thinking back over my older kids, and now five year old Sophia, and what summers in the country will be remembered as when they all look back.  I have very vivid pictures in my mind of little feet, ankle deep in the pond trying to catch frogs, and lots of attempts to catch fireflies at dusk.  But this particular scene is in my mind not only from when my older girls were little, but now repeated with Sophie: little girls sitting in the middle of the garden or even the amongst the wild grasses and flowers, sweaty and hair all wild.   You call their name and they turn for just a second and  you catch that beautiful, innocent  child look.  Love it.  
   

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"


       I had a chance this weekend to do a lot of painting, which means I got very far on one project (pictures to post very soon) and was able to finish up this one that I have been working on for the past few weeks.   This little guy is the grandson of some super nice people who, although we don't know them well, they have been so kind and important in the life of one of our kids.  For that reason, they are very special to us.  In this crazy world of FB, I happened to notice one day a photo the grandma posted of this  guy.  Honestly, he is truly one of the cutest toddlers that I have ever seen.   Now for those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that while florals are my main inspiration, I am close to obsessed with learning portraits.  I acknowledge that I am a novice at best at doing them, but I so want to get better!  Sometimes I will just see a face that I absolutely need to paint.  This was one of them.
  This woman was so nice when she received a message from me (she may have thought I was a little crazy, but she didn't even let on if that was her thinking!), asking if I could paint a picture of this little guy that I have never even met.
   Slowly, I have been adding layers, using some if the same glazing techniques that I use with my flowers.  It is time consuming, but so worth it.  I would estimate that there are about twelve to fifteen layers in his skin tones.  But I am really happy with the luminous results you get from it.
    As I was painting, studying his cute little features - the pudgy cheeks, the turned up nose, the beautiful dark ring of blue around his eyes, I kept thinking of the verse from Psalm 139 - "I am Fearfully and wonderfully made...".   I know we are living in a post modern world that tends to scoff at the simplistic idea of creationism.  But honestly, when I think about the complicated and yet subtle curves and shapes of this tiny face - I can't help but be struck with the thought that this was not by some  cosmic accident.  This was the well planned hand of a designer that knows His craft.  When you are painting a face you paint and repaint a feature, changing it with such subtlety - a little more arch of the eye lid here - but not too much or the whole eye changes to someone elses', a little more dip in the corner of the mouth, a little more shade to the crease under the eye - oh, that is too much, try it again.  And all that only gives you (or at least me, the novice) a small glimpse of what that person really looks like.  We truly are made individuals, crafted with such love and respect and oh, so wonderfully.
     And if the God of the Universe, took such time and care to make this beautiful little face so uniquely his - it only makes sense that this same God has crafted out a beautiful, unique life for this little boy - with His special plans for only this little guy to walk out.  And if true for this little guy, true for all of us.
     Wow.  Big thoughts that leave me in awe.







Friday, May 17, 2013

Something Out of the Ordinary


It has been way too long since I last posted anything on this blog.  This is partially because, well, life tends to get in the way sometimes of things like painting.  But also, over the past two months I have been in the gradual process of moving my art "studio" (i.e. the corner of our family office in which I paint) into our basement.    This process has made it difficult to do simple tasks like taking pictures of my work on a regular basis and get it posted online!  But I have been busy at work on various projects and will try an be more consistent about posting.
One thing I have been doing is getting ready for an art show that has become an annual event for the Creative Artists of Cedar Rapids. the show is called "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat".   Some of you may recall when I spoke of this show in the past.  The gist of it is that approximately 35 artists are all given the same photograph and are asked to paint their interpretation of it.  This may seem like the makings of a boring show, but it is anything but.  It is always amazing to see thirty five extremely different paintings at the show.  Below is the advertisement for the show, with the original photo that we all painted.  

   The show took place last night and was a lot of fun with a terrific turn out.  There were lots of amazing pieces in different mediums and styles.  

For me this was lots of fun to prepare for - but also extremely challenging.  The subject matter was not one I would normally choose to paint.  At first, it felt dark and I wasn't sure I wanted to "dwell" in a graveyard for the month or so that I would be working on the piece.  I let some ideas float around in my head for a while.  When I thought about death, two thing stood out to me the most.  First, there was the scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 "we don't mourn as those who have no hope..."  Although death on the one hand is such a sad thing, on the other hand, for those who have given their lives to the Lord, and know the power of forgiveness given them by what Jesus did on the cross, death isn't the end, its only the beginning of life in Heaven!  So there is mourning for those friends and family who remain, but not the kind of hopeless mourning that says we will never see them again.  There is the hope that we will see them again in Heaven.  Secondly, I kept thinking of the phrase "not here".  I looked at the photo with the gravestones and thought - someday my body will lay under a grave stone too, but not my soul.  I won't really be there - just what remains of me.  
It was with these thoughts that I painted my interpretation of the photo.  Again, not something I would typically paint, but it ended up being inspiring to think about the hope that I do have, as I painted this project.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Study - Sophia



              Pardon the glare on this photo, but here is a glance at what I have been up to.... I worked last weekend on a little study of my daughter, Sophia.  I had snapped some photos of her about a year ago and had been saving them for a project I have in mind.
         The day of the photos she had been playing dress up all day (which pretty much sums up her daily existence), and had taken a break to sit down and watch cartoons.  Still wearing her little dress up crown, she was mesmerized by the latest adventure of "Max and Ruby".  I love the photo and will hopefully get to the bigger project involving it soon.  But this was a quick weekend study to help get me ready.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not What You Would Expect


Some of you who check into my blog or Facebook page every so often to see what the "flower of the hour" is that I am painting, might be thinking right about now that you have gotten onto the wrong blog.  My subject matter this week is not what you probably expect from me - although I did manage to get some flowers in there - ha!  Not to worry, I am not entering a mid life goth period in which I am suddenly fascinated with death.  But you might see a few more tombstones pop up on my site over the next few months.  Let me explain.
  I belong to an incredible group of artists in the Cedar Rapids area called Creative Artists.  One of the awesome things we do is to hold an annual show called "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat", in which we are all given a black and white 8 1/2x11 photo and are given the opportunity to interpret it in our own way, in our own medium.  It is a fantastic show with approximately thirty very different interpretations of the same subject.  
   This year the photo is of a graveyard.  At first I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that.  Not really my cup of tea, if you will.  But then I started mulling over some ideas of how I would interpret it.  I firmly believe every artist paints from their own unique perspective on the world. I am trying to take this topic, that I would usually not be inclined to paint, and apply my perspective on it.  The show will be in May - more details on that as the time gets closer, for those of you living in my area.  Until then I will be doing  quite a few of these small studies to get ready for the final painting.  
  I would love to hear from some of my readers - when you see this subject in a painting, what is a phrase that comes to your mind, or even better yet, a title?  Email me or leave a comment. Looking forward to hearing your input.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Basket Case



    Here is another little study I did with Hydrangeas.  I am well on my way to overcoming my fear of painting this tricky little flower.  I really liked the color scheme for this one...it just might end up hanging in my light blue bedroom.
    For those of you in the Cedar Rapids area, I have a couple of paintings hanging at the Lowes Art Center in Marion, along with about twenty other artists from the Creative Artists of Cedar Rapids.  It is going to be a great show that runs from February 9th through March 30th.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine


  Nothing says Valentine's Day like a rose, so yesterday I thought this would make a nice afternoon, alla prima project.  Once again, I was on a quest to paint looser, paint looser, paint looser.    Painting looser in my home doesn't just involve brush strokes.  It means so much more.   It often means trying to enjoy the process of creating in the midst of a lot of interruptions and sometimes a little bit of chaos.

   Today's chaos involved the antics of a five year old in need of snacks, a game break of Shoots and Ladders with mom, one "Mom, can you get me some toilet paper?" moment, and of course good stories she needed to share.   But how could I possibly resist this cute little face....


Adding to the chaos is one shaggy creature we like to call Einstein (named so out of irony, not because of his amazing I.Q.)  


Einstein (with my daughter, Tori)
    Einstein likes to interrupt my painting time with the need to go out (often), the need to chew on pillows, the stealing of Sophie's toys and the occasional big, wet nose stuffed under my arm in an attempt to get my attention.  Oh, and his favorite sport - counter surfing (for any food we may have left sitting on the counter).

    After about two hours of painting, with twenty or so interruptions, I looked at the clock and realized it was time to get dinner on for my family.  The painting had to wait until evening,  after everyone has gone to bed.
    Don't get me wrong, this isn't a rant or a complaint.  I have learned (and am continuing to learn) to stay loose - not to let the small stuff stress me out.  (okay, in case any of my children read this I will clarify - I choose to not be stressed more often than I allow myself to be stressed).  More often than not, I consider even the interruptions to be tolerable because of the overall reward of having these amazing people in my life....


I often say they are the flowers that grow in my garden (and every garden needs tending to) and the jewels on my crown.  I am honored to have this crazy, sometimes chaotic, always entertaining , crew for my very funny valentines.
Post script:  I was interrupted seven, count them seven times, while writing this post...












Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hydrengea


   
       Hydrangeas scare me.  Not the plant themselves - I love them.  But painting them seems over whelming and daunting.   Don't ask me why - it's just something I have had stuck in my head.  So I thought I would overcome my fears a little and take one on.  Literally, one.  More than one just seemed too overwhelming.  It was the perfect flower to do to help me in my ever constant striving to paint loser.    If you try and paint to tight and detailed it will only end in disaster.

    I am no longer afraid of them - at least not as much.  I just might take them on again.
   Until then....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Poppies in a Vase - Study



A study that I did one afternoon last week.  Nothing like classical music in the background, a beautiful still life before you and a blank canvas.  Again, working on a smaller scale and striving for loose brushwork.  I love cobalt blue glass and I think the deep blue with the orange is meant to be together.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Still Life Saturday


     In my last post I told you my goal for 2013 was to work more on smaller, less time consuming projects.  Last Saturday, I set up a still life on my dining room table, with a couple of items I had around the house and a table cloth attached to our chandelier for a backdrop.  I basically  took over the space for the weekend (my apologies to my family who had to eat their meals at the kitchen island).
    I haven't done a still life in a long time.  It was fun and challenging.  My main goal was to paint loose - which is something that I am forever trying to get better at.  I worked on it for a couple of hours on Saturday and then finished it up on Sunday.  It was great.  No sweating over time issues ("Ahhh...this is taking forever to complete...") and no working on  it for so long that I get tired of it and want to move on to something else.  And best of all - no trying to create some kind of master piece.  It was just creating to create for the pure joy of it.  Made for a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Epiphanies in Failure



    I gave a sneak peek into this one a few posts ago.  Honestly, I wasn't too excited about sharing the whole thing.  It is not a painting I am very pleased with.  It's a big guy - 3 ft. x 4 ft.  When I started it I was so inspired and excited to get going on it.  I worked on and off  on it  all throughout November.  And the longer I worked on it, the more frustrated I got with the results.
   Now don't get me wrong, there are things I really like about.  For instance, I tried some new things with the background that I really like....



But over all the subject itself just didn't turn out how I wanted it to and I felt like the composition was weak to say the least.  So it has sat in the "Should I paint over it or just stick it in the trash can?" pile for about the last month.

I never even gave it a title - although "Failure" had come to mind.

                Then, shortly after the new year, I read a great article in Professional Artist magazine by a fantastic artist named Carol Marine that really challenged artists to think more about painting smaller, but more often.  She gave numerous reasons why, but the one that really stuck to me was the emotional tie you get from painting bigger paintings that take so much more time.  She hit the nail on the head.  It was like she saw me sitting in my little studio staring at this giant failure, mourning over all the time and effort I put into it with less than stellar results.  It wasn't that she was even recommending throwing out all ideas of painting on a bigger scale. (Whew!  I do love a large canvas to explode paint on!)  It was more the idea of painting to learn, painting to express creativity quickly, painting not to necessarily create a master piece every time, but for the pure enjoyment of painting.  Smaller scale = pressure off, in so many ways.
   
This has given me such a fresh perspective to start the new year off with.  I still have a bigger project on the easel, one that I will dabble with a bit every day.  But I am going to try my hand a bit more at smaller paintings that I can perhaps finish in a few days to a week. (I am just not a daily painter, no two ways about it.)  I think this will motivate me to paint more often, because I will see finished results more often.  This is like a whole new mind set for me. And it's one I am excited to pursue.

So, this big guy had a close call, but will probably not end up in the trash can.  The experience of painting it caused me to learn a lot. I will keep it around.  I may even give it a title..."Epiphany".








Monday, January 14, 2013

Renewal


Here we are at the beginning of a new year again.  I started my new year off with a two day project with my husband that included revamping our "we've-been-married-for-twenty-four-years-and-our-clutter-shows-it" bedroom.  We got rid of an old dresser that I was hanging onto because I am hopelessly sentimental - even though the drawers barely open anymore.  We moved in an armoure from another room to help find places for the clutter previously spoken of, along with two new dressers.  I had gotten a new duvet cover a month or so ago and new throw pillows.  The end result was amazing, but the process was even better.  How theraputic to work together to let go of things we needlessly hold onto and renew stagnant space with a whole new outlook.  By far, it was one of the best New Years Eve and New Years Days I have had in a long time.

And what, you are probably asking about this time, does that have with art?  Well, it all came about because of this painting.  I'm not going to lie - I painted it to match the duvet cover, and I'm not ashamed to admit to it.   But in all seriousness, I painted it to convey that amazing joy and peace that comes every Spring when after a long winter of blah - we see new life burst out of what looked like dead wood.  It is a theme I have visited before.  It is a comforting theme and probably the reason I so love magnolias and many of the other spring flowering branches.  

          I wanted that spring renewal theme in the space where I spend time every day and every night.  Your bedroom should be a place of retreat to get away from hectic schedules and the burdens we face everyday.  It is also the place where we begin our days with the perspectives that we find there.  
  
          So, what started out as a new duvet cover and and new painting - ended up in an entire renewal project.

So as of January third, I wake up to these blooming branches, in soft, comforting colors, that renews my mind and reminds me everytime that I look at it that today is a new day, a new chance.

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23


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